Bright Lights, Big City
18 June 2008 | Papeete, Tahiti
After a rather slow, swelly ride, we arrived in Papeete, the main city on the island of Tahiti. We had heard from several others that Papeete was, at best, a place to spend a few days while getting necessary supplies, and, at worst, a cesspool to be avoided altogether.
With the bar set so low, it wasn't hard to be pleasantly surprised by the area and its offerings. True, it is a (relatively) large city, complete with problems inherent to all cities. But it is also set in a beautiful location, tucked behind a reef at the base of a dramatic tropical island.
We chose to anchor away from town, near the main marina. Beside being further from the hustle and bustle of the city proper, this location afforded more in the way of marine goods and services. From here, one could take the local bus (Le Truck) for a $1.50 ride to downtown. Or not...the local Dinghy Bar had a nightly happy hour, and passable pizza. Not a bad way to spend a few hours in the evenings, swapping lies and drinking the local brew with other cruisers.
And though others were not as enamored with the shopping scene of Papeete, I was more than happy to top off our diesel and water tanks, and fill a propane canister while Nancy made numerous provisioning runs to Carrefours, the large supermarket,. Different trips for different drips, I guess.
After 5 or 6 days of urban life, and with all tanks filled and the waterline 3 inches submerged, we said goodbye to the bright lights and big city, bound for the island of Moorea, a whopping 10 miles away. Moorea had been hit earlier in the week with a number of (very) blustery days, but now the weather was settled, and it was time to go.
A few hours later, we pulled into Opunohu Bay, adjacent to Cook's Bay. Both are deep indentations, nearly cutting the island in half. The inner bays are river-fed, and thus sediment-laden and murky. The outer areas, though, just inside the reefs, are absolutely gorgeous, with gin-clear water and sand bottoms. Absolutely perfect. In fact, the water is so clear that last night, with the full moon up, we could see the shadow of our boat dancing on the sand, 30 feet below us. Amazing.
The skyline of Moorea doesn't suck, either. Very dramatic, very tropical, very South Seas. Palm trees line the perfect beach just off to starboard, and waves are crashing on the reef to port. To top things off, our good friends on Tin Soldier and Blue Plains Drifter are here, which guarantees a constantly flowing supply of rum and good company. Life is good.
Plans from here include swimming with some wild rays later today, and a quick trip to Cook's Bay in a few days. While not exactly a full dance card, its nice to slow down a bit after the experience that was Papeete.